By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
Just three days after an impressive bi-district playoff win over Midlothian, how does the Killeen Kangaroo boys basketball team get rewarded?
They get a date with 10th-ranked Lancaster at Burleson High School, beginning at 8 p.m. tonight.
"Man they look good," KHS coach Bo Burgess said of the Tigers (23-9). "They've got tremendous size down low, they've got great perimeter shooting and they've got 10 players who can score."
Led by 6-foot-8, 230-pound post standout Tarrence Garrison and his 17 points-per-game, the Tigers breezed through District 14-4A with a 10-0 record, winning by an average of 35 points, nothing new for a program rich in tradition.
"They've won 13 straight district titles ... not too shabby," Burgess said. "I think the biggest advantage they have on us is that they play teams like us all the time in their district, but we haven't played that many teams like Lancaster.
"(Waco) University is probably the closet example of a team like Lancaster as far as athletic ability goes. Except for the fact that University's post players are 6-2, Lancaster's post players are 6-8, 6-8, 6-5."
Three-point specialist Terrance McCallister (14 PPG) brings another threat to the Tigers' squad, but only three players averaging double figures shows the depth of Lancaster.
"They spread their points around so we're really going to have to focus on the fundamentals against this team," Burgess said. "They're bigger than us so we need to box out well and deny any second shots. We need to do that better than we've ever done this year."
The Roos (20-13) used an impressive opening quarter to control their bi-district win and Burgess knows that type of intensity will be needed once again.
"We need to make sure what we did to Midlothian doesn't happen to us," Burgess said. "We needed to withstand their pressure and stay close with them. If we fall behind big early, they're too deep and talented to come back from."
Despite the impressive resume the Tigers bring to the table, the Roos know anything is possible in the playoffs.
"It's not an impossible task to win this game," Burgess said. "There's less pressure on us because we're the underdog. We should come out relaxed and just get after it. Sometimes, district champions can come out tight."
If there is one advantage the Roos have, it's the venue.
"The last time we played at Burleson in the playoffs was in 1999," Burgess recalled. "We were playing Flower Mound Marcus and they jumped on us early.
"We fell behind by 15 in the first quarter and 12 at the half. We were still down by eight with 32 seconds left, but somehow managed to come back, force overtime and win the game. We hit something like five 3-pointers in the final minute, including one at the buzzer to force OT."
The winner of tonight's game will take on the winner of the Ellison-Dallas South Oak Cliff contest in the regional quarterfinals.
Contact Tony Altobelli at firstname.lastname@example.org